Bathing your baby’s a lovely way to spend time together and bond with them.
It’s natural to feel a bit worried if you’ve never done it before, though.
Some people find they’re so careful it takes ages to give a bath in the first few weeks. This is completely natural and you’ll get more confident as the weeks go on.
Don’t worry too much if your baby doesn’t like having a bath at first – some babies don’t. They should get used to it and start to enjoy it more after a few weeks.
Whether it’s a bath, a top and tail or a nappy change, try and keep to the same routine each time you do it. This helps your baby learn what’s happening and feel safe.
Talk to them at each step and tell them what you’re doing so they can pick up the routine.
Before you give your baby a bath:
When filling the bath:
To put your baby in the bath safely:
If you use your bath you’ll need to lean over your baby, which isn’t very comfortable. Usually it’s easier to use a basin or a small baby bath on the floor. When they’re bigger and you’re feeling more confident, you could try a slightly deeper bath.
To bath your baby:
Dry your baby in a large, soft warm towel, put on their nappy and dress them.
Only use plain water for newborn babies.
You can start using unperfumed baby bath from about 4 to 6 weeks, but be careful to only use a little so you don’t damage your baby’s skin.
Babies with longer hair may need a drop of mild shampoo on wet hair, lathered and rinsed off.
Some babies have folds of skin, especially round their neck, thighs and wrists. Milk can get trapped there which can irritate the skin, making it sore.
Clean inside these folds gently.
The stump of the umbilical cord usually falls off by itself after around 10 days, leaving a perfect tummy button. Don’t worry if it takes a little longer or seems a bit smelly. Let the water wash gently around it to remove any discharge.
You don’t have to bath your baby every day – instead you can give them a quick top and tail.
Topping and tailing is a quick alternative to a bath and you can do it once or twice a day.
To top and tail your baby you’ll need:
To top and tail your baby:
Be gentle when cleaning your baby’s genital area – never try to pull back a baby boy’s foreskin.
Keep fingernails and toenails neat and trimmed, as your baby might scratch the skin on their face.
Use special baby nail scissors with rounded edges and don’t cut too far down.
Cradle cap’s a common scalp condition in babies. It shows up as scaly, greasy patches on their scalp, a bit like bad dandruff.
It’s nothing to worry about – in fact it’s a sign that your baby’s skin is growing.
Try rubbing baby oil or vegetable oil into your baby’s scalp to loosen the scales, and then rinse it off. If the scalp looks red or seems infected, get advice from your midwife, health visitor, family nurse or pharmacist.
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3 November 2023